Revolutionary Energy Storage: Flywheels

A key energy storage technology for the future, called the flywheel, allows for frequency regulation without wasting extra fuel. Its implementation is a big step toward a smart energy grid.

What's the Latest Development?


A new modification on an old piece of energy technology, called a flywheel, will enable utility companies to store large amounts of energy efficiently until it is needed on the electricity grid. "Take an advanced carbon fiber rim, lift it on magnets in a vacuum, spin it at very high speeds and you can store electrical energy," says Beacon Power, creator of the flywheel. "While the principles of flywheels have been known for a long time and smaller-scale facilities built, the completion of Beacon Power's 20-megawatt plant on the New York grid is a milestone in energy storage."

What's the Big Idea?

Increasing demand for energy, especially in the third world, is putting pressure on our current source of (unsustainable) energy. The search for more efficiency in supplying the public with electricity is inspiring ideas for a smart grid, an electricity network more responsive to demand and supply. A smart grid would tell consumers which hours are the cheapest to consumer electricity and would make the network bidirectional, meaning consumers could supply their own stored electricity back to the grid, perhaps in the form of an electric car battery, for compensation. 

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Top Video Splash
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and things that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way.".